Fingal Joint Policing Committee Refuses to Answer SF Councillor's Questions
BLANCHARDSTOWN Sinn Féin Councillor Felix Gallagher has criticised a decision by the recently established Fingal Joint Policing Committee to answer a number of written questions he recently submitted. As the sole Sinn Féin Councillor on Fingal County Council, Gallagher was excluded from the committee by Labour and Fine Gael despite the Committee's guidelines stating that all political groupings should be included.
Cllr Gallagher said "A technicality in the guidelines was used to exclude me from this committee. Despite this I have attended every meeting in the public gallery, as is my right. Unfortunately those same councillors who excluded me do not have the same record of attendance; indeed the last meeting had none of the Mulhuddart elected representatives, TDs or councillors, in attendance. How do they hope to seriously address criminality in Blanchardstown if they do not attend? In advance of this meeting I submitted 16 questions relating to specific initiatives in Dublin 15, as I am entitled to do. However, as the Garda Chief Superintendent was about to answer them, he was interrupted by Fine Gael Councillor who stated that it was too time consuming. Despite it being my public right to submit written questions as per the Ministerial Guidelines, I have now been informed that these will not be answered. We now have the situation where the Blanchardstown area, which has the highest rates of crime in Fingal, is not being represented on this committee and I am being excluded from participating either as an elected representative or a member of the public. This decision to exclude me exposes those, particularly Labour and Fine Gael, who criticise Sinn Féin's position on engaging in policing, while they continuously exclude me.
"My questions related to the frequency of Policing Committee meetings, which were scheduled for just two per years; the lack of Garda numbers in Dublin 15 which only has a third of the number of Gardai as similar sized areas such as Limerick; to the sale of alcohol to minors and how many off-licences have been successfully prosecuted; as well as relating to specific criminal/anti-social blackspots throughout Dublin 15. I wish this committee every success, however unless it is to take on board the views of all sections of society it is destined to fail given that its own stated function is to ' serve as a forum for consultations, discussions and recommendations on matters affecting the policing of the local authoritys'. ENDS.
Copy of Councillor Gallagher's Questions which were not answered:
Fingal Joint Policing Committee Questions
1. Will the Committee confirm how many policing districts are included in the Fingal County Council boundary?
2. Is the area to the northwest of the Ongar Road covered by K District Gardai?
3. Given that the function of the Committee is to 'serve as a forum for consultations, discussions and recommendations on matters affecting the policing of the local authority's administrative area, does the Committee agree that two meetings per annum is insufficient?
4. Does the Committee agree that the number of Gardai serving the Dublin 15 area is insufficient and lags behind areas such as Limerick, who have three times the number of Gardai despite having a smaller population?
5. Will the Committee report on the average number of Gardai on duty at any given weekend night for the Dublin 15 area?
6. Will the Committee report on the number of Gardai patrol cars (not including Traffic Corps) in operation at any given weekend night for the Dublin 15 area?
7. Will the Committee report on the levels of crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour and the underlying factors for same for the Whitestown area of Dublin 15?
8. Will the Committee report on the levels of crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour and the underlying factors for same for the Corduff Lane area of Dulbin 15?
9. Will the Committee report on the levels of crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour and the underlying factors for same for the Wellview area of Dublin 15?
10. Will the Committee report on the levels of crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour and the underlying factors for same for Hazelbury/Littlepace area of Dublin 15?
11. Will the Committee report on the levels of crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour and the underlying factors for same for the Huntstown shops area of Dublin 15?
12. Will the Committee report on what measures are in place to ensure that off-licences are not selling alcohol to minors in the Dublin 15 area?
13. Will the Committee report on how many times the Gardai have objected to the renewal/granting of licensed premises in Dublin 15 and if these objections were successful?
14. Will the Committee report on the underlying factors contributing to frequent and on-going illegal parking in the Hazelbury Park area of Dublin 15?
15. Will the Committee report on the role of the Local Authority with reference to Section 37 of the Garda Siochána Act 2005, which states 'A local authority shall, in performing its functions, have regard to the importance of taking steps to prevent crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour within its area of responsibility'?
16. Will the Committee utilise the expertise of people with experience of similar initiatives, both in Ireland, and 'Safer Community Teams' from Local Authorities in Britain?